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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2011 Sep;66(9):2006-10. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkr265. Epub 2011 Jul 8.

False extended-spectrum {beta}-lactamase phenotype in clinical isolates of Escherichia coli associated with increased expression of OXA-1 or TEM-1 penicillinases and loss of porins.

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Health Protection Agency, Microbiology Services-Colindale, London, UK.



Two clinical isolates of Escherichia coli, EC18 and EC21, were non-susceptible (MICs 4-16 mg/L) to cefpirome and cefepime, with marked synergy with clavulanate, yet were susceptible to cefotaxime and ceftazidime (MICs ≤ 1 mg/L). EC19, from the same patient as EC21, was susceptible to all four cephalosporins. We sought to characterize the molecular basis of resistance in isolates EC18 and EC21.


PFGE was used to study the genetic relationships of the isolates, and MICs were determined. β-Lactamases were characterized by PCR, isoelectric focusing (IEF), construction of genomic libraries and sequencing. A double mutant of E. coli J53 was constructed, lacking OmpC and OmpF porins. Plasmids from clinical isolates were transformed into E. coli J53 and J53ΔompCF. Outer membrane proteins (OMPs) were analysed by SDS-PAGE and OmpA by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization time-of-flight/time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Expression of omp and bla genes was analysed by RT-PCR.


Isolates EC19 and EC21 had identical PFGE profiles, whereas EC18 was distinct. PCR and IEF confirmed β-lactamases with pIs of 5.4 (TEM-1) in EC18 and 7.4 (OXA-1) in both EC19 and EC21. EC18 had bla(TEM-1b) with the strong promoter P5 and lacked OmpC and OmpF. RT-PCR showed stronger expression of bla(OXA-1) in EC21 versus EC19, along with diminished expression of OmpC, though with increased OmpF. Plasmids extracted from EC18 and EC21 conferred increased MICs of cefpirome and cefepime, although susceptibility to cefotaxime and ceftazidime was retained.


The 'cefpiromase' or 'cefepimase' ESBL phenotype of the clinical isolates non-susceptible to cefpirome and cefepime resulted from high expression of TEM-1 or OXA-1 β-lactamases combined with loss of porins.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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